MSI Releases Intel Z170 Motherboards Featuring XPower Titanium

Subject: Motherboards | August 5, 2015 - 09:32 PM |
Tagged: XPower Titanium, Skylake, msi, motherboards, LGA 1151, Intel Z170

We've heard news of Z170 motherboards from a couple of vendors today, but how many of them can claim a silver motherboard? If you guessed none you'd be correct - until this moment, that is.

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Feast your eyes on the all new MSI XPower Gaming Titanium motherboard, a silver ATX design featuring the new Intel Z170 chipset. While this board is obviously rather new it already has the distinction of holding the highest DDR4 overclock to date (a fact which seems not to have escaped MSI's attention).

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In addition to apparently overclocking memory rather well the XPower Titanium also features:

  • OC DASHBOARD: On-the-fly overclocking
  • Twin Turbo M.2 64Gb/s + Turbo U.2 ready
  • GAMING LAN with LAN Protect, powered by Intel
  • Audio Boost 3, Nahimic Audio Enhancer
  • Game Boost: 8 levels of easy overclocking
  • GAMING Hotkey: Assign macros, launch your favorite games or do real-time overclocking using a single button
  • XSplit Gamecaster v2.5: 1 year free premium license
  • Military Class 5: The latest evolution in high quality components featuring the brand new Titanium Chokes
  • MULTI-GPU with Steel Armor: Steel Armor PCI-E slots

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The name of the new motherboard might have something to do with the Military Class 5 titanium chokes, but there's no mistaking the look of this board which will provide a fresh option for new builds. Options like this keep rolling in, and it's going to be a very busy rest of the summer!

Source: MSI

ASUS Releases Z170 Signature Motherboards for Intel Skylake

Subject: Motherboards | August 5, 2015 - 03:30 PM |
Tagged: Z170-Deluxe, motherboards, LGA 1151, Intel Z170, deluxe, asus

We previously reported news of the new Maximus lineup for the Z170 platform, but ASUS had more to announce today.

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The new signature motherboard lineup (click here for the full comparison chart) includes new Z170 versions of the familiar models from previous chipsets, and they have specifically detailed quite a bit about their new high-end Z170-Deluxe model.

The Z170-Deluxe is crammed with proprietary goodies such as:

5-Way Optimization: "The unbeatable combination of automated overclocking, advanced fan controls, enhanced efficiency, digital power and per-app performance profiles"

 ASUS Pro Clock: "A dedicated base-clock (BCLK) generator designed for 6th-generation Intel processors that allows overclocked base clock frequencies up to 400MHz"

Water Pump Header: "Self-contained and custom water cooling systems now have a dedicated fan header to connect to that provides the required 1A of power for both DC- or PWM-controlled pumps"

Dual PCIe M.2 x4: "The Hyper M.2 x4 card supports a full range of M.2 lengths up to 22110, while providing flexibility to install M.2 drives away from heat-generating sources"

USB 3.1: "With both Type A and Type C USB 3.1 ports onboard, the Z170-Deluxe is capable of handling current...as well as up-and-coming devices"

Crystal Sound 3, Intel Ethernet & Turbo LAN: "Pairing best-in-class integrated audio with low-latency networking on both hardware and software fronts"

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And the Deluxe also features advanced cooling capability, with onboard headers individually controllable by assigment to different temp diodes on the motherboard. (The board also supports the awesome-looking "ASUS Fan Extension card" which I feel strangely compelled to purchase - depending on price of course).

Lastly, what modern motherboard would be complete without full RGB lighting? If you said "no motherboard is complete without that!" then you won't be disappointed. The Z170-Deluxe, like the Maximus series, contains just this kind of lighting:

"All the Z170 Signature Series motherboards have a 256-color LED that lets users customize the lighting of their builds. This LED can also be set to reflect the CPU temperature or pulse to the beat of the music playing through the system."

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The Z170-Deluxe and the rest of the Signature motherboards are said to be available immediately, so keep checking your favorite outlets as they are gradually appearing for sale.

Source: ASUS

ECS getting out of the retail motherboard business?

Subject: General Tech | June 24, 2015 - 01:38 PM |
Tagged: ECS, motherboards, rumours

According to rumours DigiTimes has heard, ECS motherboards may no longer be sold by themselves and will only be found in OEM builds.  With the slowdown in the DIY PC market, arguably caused in part by a lack of reasons to completely upgrade gaming systems, ECS may be withdrawing from the market.  This bears to reason as their motherboard families have been much smaller than the competitions for a while now and you do not see much marketing for them on sites recently. It is always sad to see the marketplace shrink, hopefully this will give them the ability to focus more on their tablets and laptops and make those products more competitive; though that market is even tougher to succeed at than the motherboard business.

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"Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS) has announced that it will no longer actively market own-brand DIY motherboards but will undertake ODM/OEM production if clients have demand, and this is the equivalent of a gradual withdrawal from the global own-brand DIY motherboard market, according to Taiwan-based supply chain makers."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

ASUS Announces UEFI Update with Socketed 5th-Gen Intel Broadwell Support for 9 Series Motherboards

Subject: Processors | March 10, 2015 - 10:20 AM |
Tagged: uefi, motherboards, lga 1150, Intel, Broadwell, bios, asus

ASUS has announced that all current Intel 9 Series motherboards will support the upcoming 5th-Generation Intel Broadwell LGA 1150 CPUs with an UEFI update.

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We reported last week that Intel’s 5th-generation Broadwell CPU had been demonstrated at GDC using Intel’s Iris Pro graphics, though official details about the new LGA versions of Broadwell are not yet public. The desktop variants will no doubt use the same 14nm process technology of the current BGA parts, and it has been rumored that the new CPUs will initially launch in both Core i5 and i7 versions, with the potential for Core i3 and Pentium branded parts to follow (though any potential product information is mere speculation at this point).

It will be interesting to see if the upcoming LGA 5th-Generation CPUs will be able offer any higher perfomance for desktop users compared to existing Haswell parts (such as the i7-4790K), or if there will even be unlocked processors. Considering Broadwell is a mobile-focused part designed for efficency and lower power consumption the chips could offer a compelling solution for small form-factor computers such as HTPCs, as they will presumably provide lower heat and higher IPC than existing parts.

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The UEFI updates will go live later today (some updates have already been released) and include all ASUS motherboard models with Z97 and H97 chipsets.

Source: ASUS

Who is the biggest mobo maker of the year

Subject: General Tech | November 14, 2014 - 01:27 PM |
Tagged: asus, gigabyte, sales, motherboards

If you prefer to talk about the sheer number of sales then ASUS is on track to take top spot with roughly 22 million units sold over 2014, a jump of over just 1 million from last year and 2 more than Gigabyte's predicted sales of 20 million units.  ASUS will also hold on to the most profit this year, Gigabyte is expected to match last year's profit of about 97 million USD which falls short of ASUS' expected 130 million USD but that is not the whole story.  Last year ASUS closed out with over 160 million USD profit which shows a significant decline in their profitability during the same period that Gigabyte's profitability remained the same.  DigiTimes reports this as being due to increased spending by ASUS on marketing and price cuts on their motherboards.  Is it possible that ASUS' once insurmountable lead in the motherboard market could be a thing of the past?

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"Asustek Computer's motherboard shipments returned to six million units in the third quarter thanks to its aggressive price-cutting strategy, which helped the vendor slightly widen the gap with its major competitors Gigabyte Technology, according to sources from the motherboard industry. However, despite the fact that Asustek is estimated to ship more motherboards than Gigabyte in 2014, its profit growth may perform weaker than Gigabyte's."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

MSI Also Launches X99S GAMING 9 ACK Motherboard

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | November 4, 2014 - 03:19 AM |
Tagged: msi, X99, motherboard, motherboards, qualcomm, killer, 802.11ac

The MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC motherboard is built for the Haswell-E architecture, and Morry did a review of it just a couple of week ago. He liked it, giving it a gold award. Now MSI has released a new model, the X99S GAMING 9 ACK, which is basically identical except for its wireless adapter. While the original AC-variant had Intel 802.11ac with dual antennas, the ACK comes with Qualcomm Killer-branded 802.11ac.

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Again, for the rest of the motherboard, I will refer you to Morry's review. The only real difference is the Killer NIC and Wireless-AC combo, which is actually more than it seems. If I understand it correctly, "Smart Teaming" will monitor the specific applications using the network and split them between LAN and WiFi, with the more latency-dependent programs getting the wired connection. In theory, this is interesting except that both streams would need to merge in order to get out the internet, which will be your bottleneck. On the other hand, if this works with multiple internet connections, then I could see a use case. For instance, someone has a solid DSL connection alongside their high-bandwidth Cable ISP.

Or, of course, that could not work at all and the outbound internet will, in fact, be your bottleneck.

Pricing and availability is also not available. You can find the original X99S GAMING 9, with the Intel wireless network controller, for about $405. An upgraded wireless adapter should not increase the cost much at all.

Source: MSI

MSI Launches X99S MPOWER Motherboard

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | November 4, 2014 - 01:12 AM |
Tagged: X99, overclocking, msi, mpower, motherboards, motherboard

The X99S XPOWER is MSI's top-of-the-line overclocking motherboard. The company has just introduced the X99S MPOWER to complement it on their product stack. It is a similar motherboard with a smaller price tag that was reduced by removing a few optional features (I will outline the major differences, below). These are basically unrelated to performance and overclocking, minus the buttons to set the base clock on the motherboard itself and a couple of accessories (the XPOWER comes with a free Delid Die Guard and temporary fan stand). It is more things like the number of I/O ports.

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The main differences with the MPOWER are:

  • It does not have the fifth, eight-lane PCIe slot, just the four provided by Haswell-E.
  • It has one Intel Gigabit Ethernet adapter, instead of two.
  • It does not have built-in 802.11ac WiFi or Bluetooth.
  • It has two less USB 3.0 ports (external).
  • It has one less USB 2.0 port (internal, seemingly the "Direct USB" port for BIOS updates).
  • It does not come with a Delid Die Guard or fan stand.

There are a few other differences, such as the XPOWER having an I/O port cover and a few extra on-board overclocking switches and buttons, but I cannot see anything that stands out. The current price difference is about 115$ at Newegg, which is a healthy saving if nothing is a deal-killer.

The X99S XPOWER motherboard is available now, although MSI does not provide an expected MSRP. I found it at Newegg for $270 (USD) and at MemoryExpress for $320 (CDN), though.

Source: MSI
Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: Various

The Road to 1080p

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The stars of the show: a group of affordable GPU options

When preparing to build or upgrade a PC on any kind of a budget, how can you make sure you're extracting the highest performance per dollar from the parts you choose? Even if you do your homework comparing every combination of components is impossible. As system builders we always end up having to look at various benchmarks here and there and then ultimately make assumptions. It's the nature of choosing products within an industry that's completely congested at every price point.

Another problem is that lower-priced graphics cards are usually benchmarked on high-end test platforms with Core i7 processors - which is actually a necessary thing when you need to eliminate CPU bottlenecks from the mix when testing GPUs. So it seems like it might be valuable (and might help narrow buying choices down) if we could take a closer look at gaming performance from complete systems built with only budget parts, and see what these different combinations are capable of.

With this in mind I set out to see just how much it might take to reach acceptable gaming performance at 1080p (acceptable being 30 FPS+). I wanted to see where the real-world gaming bottlenecks might occur, and get a feel for the relationship between CPU and GPU performance. After all, if there was no difference in gaming performance between, say, a $40 and an $80 processor, why spend twice as much money? The same goes for graphics. We’re looking for “good enough” here, not “future-proof”.

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The components in all their shiny boxy-ness (not everything made the final cut)

If money was no object we’d all have the most amazing high-end parts, and play every game at ultra settings with hundreds of frames per second (well, except at 4K). Of course most of us have limits, but the time and skill required to assemble a system with as little cash as possible can result in something that's actually a lot more rewarding (and impressive) than just throwing a bunch of money at top-shelf components.

The theme of this article is good enough, as in, don't spend more than you have to. I don't want this to sound like a bad thing. And if along the way you discover a bargain, or a part that overperforms for the price, even better!

Yet Another AM1 Story?

We’ve been talking about the AMD AM1 platform since its introduction, and it makes a compelling case for a low cost gaming PC. With the “high-end” CPU in the lineup (the Athlon 5350) just $60 and motherboards in the $35 range, it makes sense to start here. (I actually began this project with the Sempron 3820 as well, but it just wasn’t enough for 1080p gaming by a long shot so the test results were quickly discarded.) But while the 5350 is an APU, I didn't end up testing it without a dedicated GPU. (Ok, I eventually did but it just can't handle 1080p.)

But this isn’t just a story about AM1 after all. Jumping right in here, let's look at the result of my research (and mounting credit card debt). All prices were accurate as I wrote this, but are naturally prone to fluctuate:

Tested Hardware
Graphics Cards

MSI AMD Radeon R7 250 2GB OC - $79.99

XFX AMD Radeon R7 260X - $109.99

EVGA NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 - $109.99

EVGA NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti SC - $153.99

Processors

AMD Athlon 5350 2.05 GHz Quad-Core APU - $59.99

AMD Athlon X2 340X 3.2 GHz Dual-Core CPU - $44.99.

AMD Athlon X4 760K 3.8 GHz Quad-Core CPU - $84.99

Intel Pentium G3220 3.0 GHz Dual-Core CPU - $56.99

Motherboards

ASRock AM1B-ITX Mini-ITX AMD AM1 - $39.99

MSI A88XM-E45 Micro-ATX AMD A88X - $72.99

ECS H81H3-M4 Micro-ATX Intel H81 - $47.99

Memory 4GB Samsung OEM PC3-12800 DDR3-1600 (~$40 Value)
Storage Western Digital Blue 1TB Hard Drive - $59.99
Power Supply EVGA 430 Watt 80 PLUS PSU - $39.99
OS Windows 8.1 64-bit - $99

So there it is. I'm sure it won't please everyone, but there is enough variety in this list to support no less than 16 different combinations, and you'd better believe I ran each test on every one of those 16 system builds!

Keep reading our look at budget gaming builds for 1080p!!

PCPer Live! Gigabyte Z97 Motherboard Event! May 21st, 10am PST / 1pm EST

Subject: Motherboards | May 17, 2014 - 11:15 AM |
Tagged: z97, video, pcper live, overclocking, motherboards, live, giveaway, gigabyte

With the official release of the new Intel Z97 chipset underway, we are elbow deep in new motherboard reviews and information. Our friends at Gigabyte are making a stop at the PC Perspective offices on May 21st to help educate our readers and viewers on all the changes brought about. This includes the new technologies of the Z97 chipset as well as the Gigabyte-specific features added throughout the multiple motherboard lines. We'll be live streaming the event and of course will archive it for those of you unable to be there.

If you want to catch up on what has been happening in the motherboard world, you should read Morry's Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming G1 Black Edition review.

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Gigabyte Z97 Motherboard Live Stream

10am PT / 1pm ET - May 21st

PC Perspective Live! Page

Be sure you stop by and join in the show!  Questions will be answered, prizes will be given out and fun will be had!  Who knows, maybe we can break some stuff live as well??  On hand to give away to those of you joining the live stream, we'll have a sweet Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming 3 motherboard!!

Methods for winning will be decided closer to the event, but if you are watching live, you'll be included.  And we'll ship anywhere in the world!

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We want the event to be interactive, so we want your questions.  We'll of course being paying attention to the chat room on our live page but you'll have better luck if you submit your questions about the Gigabyte Z97 products before hand, in the comments section below.  You don't have to register to ask and we'll have the ability to read them beforehand! 

Source: PCPer Live!

ASUS Z97 Motherboard Extravaganza! Videos Covering Mainstream, ROG, TUF and Workstation Series

Subject: Motherboards | May 14, 2014 - 01:40 PM |
Tagged: asus, ASUS ROG, giveaway, live, motherboards, overclocking, pcper live, video, z97

Last week we received a visit from none other than ASUS' own JJ Guerrero, motherboard master extraordinaire. During a live stream hosted on http://pcper.com/live we did a walk through of basically every Z97 motherboard that the company is launching this month. That includes the mainstream series of boards like the Z97-A and Z97-Deluxe, the ROG (Republic of Gamers) series, the TUF series (Sabertooth!) and even the Z97-WS Workstation board. 

Not only did we look at motherboard features and hardware performance but we also had demonstrations of the new ASUS features like 5-Way Optimization, AutoTuning, Keybot and more. It was pretty compelling content and users thinking about upgrading their platforms in the near future should without a doubt look at the videos we have posted below.

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Seriously though, we streamed for more than 5 hours.

As a result we have a collection of five videos to share with everyone from our PC Perspective YouTube channel. Enjoy!

(PS - If you want to check out our first review of the ASUS Z97-Deluxe, please do so. It turned out to be quite impressive.)

ASUS Z97 Mainstream Motherboards Overview 

ASUS Z97 Feature Demonstration - AutoTuning, FanXpert III, 5-Way Optimization, UEFI

ASUS Z97 ROG Series Overview and Keybot, Sonic Studio Demos

ASUS Z97 TUF Series Overview - Sabertooth and Gryphon

ASUS Z97-WS Workstation Overview